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TN Govt. justifies ban in reply

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Monday, July 03, 2006
Chennai (UNI): The Tamil Nadu Government today filed its reply before the Madras High Court in 'The Da Vinci Code' case, stating that to avert communal tension and potential violence the screening of the film was ordered to be suspended in city theatres. The reply filed by the Home Secretary and Police Commissioner said the movie went against Christian tenets. There had been alarming protests, with expression of strong resentment, and the screening would be to the detriment of a section of people in society. Protests against screening of the film had been lodgedly the Indian Christian Association, All Indian Christian Federation, National Christian Youth Movember and the President of Marumalarchi Muslim League.

This had caused great concern to communal harmony, peace and tranquility in the state. The Government had directed the Police Commissioner to assess the situation and thereafter if considered appropriate, consider the suspension of exhibition of the movie in accordance with Provisions of Section 13 of Cinematography Act. To avert communal tension, the film was ordered to be suspended. The suspension order had been forwarded to the Centre as required under Section 13 (2). The Centre should take a decision as per powers under Section 13 (2). The petitioner, if aggrieved could agitate before the Centre, which had the power to confirm or discharge.

The contention that the film with different titles in different countries when released did not cause law and order problem in the 65 countries abroad was no ground as Indian culture varied from Western civilization in all aspects. The feelings of the minority community was likely to be hurt by such narration shown in the movie, they added. They said sensiblity and acceptance of various matters and views on subjects that were highly personal but at the same time general, issues like religion and morality varied not only between countries and cultures, but even within the the same country or same State. So, stating that the movie had been accepted in Western Countries and other parts of India did not lend crediblity to the case.

Moreover, even in an Islamic country like Pakistan, the movie had been banned as also in other states and Union Territories in India like Goa, Punjab, Nagaland and Union Territory of Pondicherry. They said the contention that the authorities should 'await for the violence' and mobilize law enforcing agencies then was alien to policing. The apprehension of a law and order situation arising was well founded. The order was passed to abort possible violence. Merely because a disclaimer card was inserted, it did not take away the main theme, which offended religious feelings of viewers, they said and sought dismissal of the petition filed by Sony Pictures and Anuroshni Films, challenging the Commissioners order dated June 1.

During arguments today before Ms Justice Prabha Sridevan, Additional Advocate General P S Raman said the movie was released in India on May 28. There were protests. The Commissioner felt there was apprehension of breach of peace and passed the order, which was not a review of the Censor Board order. The suspension was temporary and not final. The movie could be released later on. Commissioner could not wait till the first show was over and see if there were problems.

He said the local authority had not taken any direct action against the producer or distributors. Religion was not an issue of public debate. It was a fundamental right and every state had to protect it. Despite Andhra Pradesh court judgement and police protection, there was agitation when the movie was about to be shown. Protesters were arrested. In Hyderabad, the movie was not released and theatre owners voluntarily stopped screening it, he said. As arguments were inconclusive, further hearing of the case was to take place tomorrow

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